Another chapter in the decades old saga over allowing Mexican trucking companies into the U.S. was recently written. This time the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc (meaning the whole bench heard the case), rejected arguments by trucking union groups over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision to allow Mexican trucking long-haul companies to come into the U.S.
The decision is an obvious blow to trucking companies and workers, though in the long run it may work in favor of the overall economy. For now, barring any additional appeals to the Supreme Court, or other litigation, it seems as if Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to do business in the United States. It also means that retaliatory steps taken by Mexico to punish U.S. producers will end as well.
Short History of the Issues
These issues go back over 30 years to a time when the Mexican government blocked access to its country to U.S. truckers. That led the U.S. to block access to Mexican trucks, and the issue was fought over until NAFTA was supposed to fix it all. But it only became more complicated as rules were developed by the federal government limiting where trucks south of the border could travel.
These restrictions were undone by the Bush administration, but reinstated by the last administration. This led the country of Mexico to put punitive tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods from the U.S. That in turn led congress to lift the restrictions and task the FMCSA with determining whether Mexican trucking companies would safely operate in the states.
The FMCSA concluded after a study that the Mexican trucking companies adhered to safety standards in the U.S. As a result they would be allowed to truck in the U.S. again. That is what led to a legal challenge by several trucking employee groups.
Legal Challenge and Ruling
The groups based their challenge on two primary arguments. The first argument was that the study conducted by the FMCSA did not sample enough trucking companies, and therefore was not scientifically accurate, or sufficient to fulfill the federal mandate to study the issue. The second argument was based on a claim the FMCSA’s decision was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative PRocedures Act.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both of these arguments, and the rejection was based on the same principle. When the Congress ordered the FMCSA to study the issue of safety and the Mexican trucking companies, they did not establish any standard or issue any benchmark the FMCSA could use to make a determination. As a result, the court was unable to review either the methods of their study, or the conclusions they came to. Now the issue should come to an end, and the trucking companies just south of the border allowed to operate here in the states.
At Anderson and Yamada we have decades of experience representing companies in federal court, and counseling them over regulatory issues from the FMCSA. We would love to put our experience to work for you and your company. Contact us today.